“The barrier wall must be completed before we can raise the level of the lake,” said Getty. The projected date for finishing the barrier wall is December 2013. Then the lake will be raised in increments and each level monitored by some 350 instruments in the dam. As soon as engineers are sure each water level is safe, the lake will be raised to a higher level and checked again.
“It’s unlikely the lake will be at historical levels in Summer 2014, but it will be significantly higher than it is now, Getty said. The lake has been held as nearly as possible to 680 feet above sea level, about 40 feet below normal, since January 2007.
Getty said no significant problems have developed while drilling in Critical Area 1. “But we keep our fingers crossed ... it is a critical area,” he reminded.
Seepage has been a problem since the dam was built. A panel of experts in 2005 labeled Wolf Creek Dam in high risk of failure. Treviicos-Soletanche JV, a joint French-Italian company was given a contract to fix the dam, a project of size and complexity never before done.
David Hendrix, previous project manager, said U.S. Army Corps engineers today would have never built Wolf Creek Dam at its location. “If we had built it here, we would have excavated the entire limestone base,” he said.